Let Your Guard Down

Other people being vulnerable is the most inspiring thing to me. It’s so rare: most people have their walls up and it’s so easy to think that it’s the safe and modern way to live. I don’t think it is at all.

On the way to meeting two of my friends to see comedian Anne Edmonds tonight I listened to The Wonder Years. They’re soon playing in the two closest capital cities to me and I’m going to see them twice: once with my brother, and once maybe on my own. I’ve seen them a few times before but this time – I’m not sad anymore.

If you want to understand what crushing, severe depression feels like – listen to It’s Never Sunny In South Philadelphia from their second album The Upsides.

If you want to understand what finding a glimmer of something to hold onto, and then being terrified that you can’t hold on hard enough or that it’s going to slip away – Don’t Let Me Cave In, from third album Suburbia I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing.

If you want to understand how it feels to finally break free and begin to stand tall – it’s the entirety of I Just Want To Sell Out My Funeral and the exquisite mix of urgency and ecstasy – and how the heartache of all the songs that precede it on fourth album The Greatest Generation culminate in soaring perfection.

And when you’re actually, incredibly, two weeks down and getting stronger every day – celebrate with I Don’t Like Who I Was Then from fifth and latest album No Closer To Heaven.

I hate letting people in – but I’m learning that it’s impossible to write anything meaningful if you don’t open a vein and bleed.

The comedian we saw tonight, Anne Edmonds, is an incredibly funny Australian who has bits in her set about not feeling beautiful; about people who have taken advantage of her; about feeling romantically rejected and neglected. Her comedy is as heartbreaking as it is hysterical – how could it not be, when someone is completely raw and open to an audience of strangers?

My friend Tim, who has beaten a super rare cancer and is still fighting its emotional fallout, was in stitches the entire time. It was my favourite thing in the world to see him laughing so much – happier than I’ve seen him since before his illness – at these stories Edmonds told about different parts of her personality and experience.

He understood it perfectly. Having finally emerged stronger on the other side of depression, I got it, too. And our friend Sam, who has bemusedly but staunchly supported his crazy friends, could also relate. But why could each of us with our different experiences feel so connected to a stranger on a stage?

When people are vulnerable and open up, it gives others permission to do the same. It makes me feel way better about maybe one day letting someone in. It’s got to be that line from Harry Potter that speaks of the power of walking to your death with your head held high.

It can feel self indulgent or self important to communicate honestly about how you’re feeling. But it’s so important and it feels like hardly anyone else is doing it – which is why it can be genuinely transformative when you find someone who is. Maybe experiencing someone else’s vulnerability can start you on your way to changing, a little bit, for the better. If you’d like.

The Greatest Generation is next level perfection:

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